He uses words like spic, nigger, faggot, chink to describe those simply different than him, people of whom he is afraid. We don’t use those words at our house because it just doesn’t matter; I tell my kids that I would really like an Asian grand-baby, as well has a pretty dark-haired, dark-eyed Mexican one, since I never had the opportunity to have one of my own. When Sam was little and would play dress-up with his big sister’s clothes, he would say, “Get that off, are you a faggot or something?” At home, with us, we say we will love him no matter what or who he is, we just want him to be happy.
Sam is the one devout believer in the household besides myself, praying every night before bed and constantly asking God for blessings upon people. People he knows, others he doesn’t. When his little friend Isaiah drowned not long ago, Sam’s primary concern was whether or not Isaiah was in heaven, and could we please call his mom to tell her how very, very sorry he was? He tells him that God is dead, or that God only watches out for people who go to church every Sunday. At home, we say that God just loves everyone, that even those most lost and hopeless are loved by God, that everyone gets a chance to get into heaven. Because God loves all of us, no matter what-just like mommies and daddies do.
He left when Sam was three, still a baby in so many ways. Even before that, though, he was gone, chasing the drugs and the women and the life he thought he deserved, with no encumbrances such as a wife and a child. That hurt; it hurt a lot. I won’t lie and say that this didn’t damage all of us in ways too many to detail here. But I dealt with it, we all did, and gave him every opportunity to maintain a relationship with his son. With the other kids, too, so far as they wanted one, and for a long while they did. So he would call sometimes and want to come see them, and I would let him, and this would happen pretty regularly for a month or six weeks, and then he would disappear. I would hear things about him from different people, I would kind of have an idea of his general area, but never really know for sure until he called again. Sometimes a couple of weeks later, more often a couple of months, but he would always call and proclaim that this time he had changed. He Saw the Light and realized how much he was throwing away, and could he please have another chance. So we would start slow again, with some supervised visits and phone calls, and things would roll along pretty smoothly for awhile until he went off on a runner again, and then poof, gone again. Still, I always gave him the benefit of the doubt, always let him come back and have another go at it-because it is so important for Sam to have his father in his life. All of this before the divorce was even final; all through the year he spent in county jail, through the nasty, hateful letters sent to me, the nights where he would bang on my door and call me a fucking cunt and threaten to kill me or kidnap his son, I still let him see him. Through the two weeks when an undercover police car was parked in front of my house for our protection because the Drug Dudes had made threats to us in hopes of motivating him to pay up, I still let him talk to his boy on the phone-because I believed it was important for Sam.
I knew what and who he was, and I tried to keep that from Sam because he IS his dad. When he would drive by our house on the way to his new girlfriend’s house, he would wave and keep driving-and every time Sam would see him, he would get all excited thinking that this time his dad would stop. The first time I allowed him to take overnight, he took him not to his house but to the house of his then-girlfriend, refuse to answer the telephone, and was three hours late in dropping him off-a direct defiance of my conditions for taking him. So we started back from the beginning, with supervised visits graduating to short outings to another overnight; this time at my house, while I want out of town. That time, he brought his then-girlfriend TO my house, fucked her on my couch while watching a porn movie; by this time Sam was 6, and had seen it all. A year later, after having no contact, he showed up again, and it all started over again. The last straw that time was when he told Sam, “I will be here next weekend for your birthday, and I already have your present, and your mom said we (by this time he was with his now-wife, though not yet married) could come to the party and have dinner with you.” Very specific, as opposed to “I’ll see you soon,” and guess what? He never showed up. Never called, until two months later he called out of the blue and said, “I will be there to take Sam for the weekend,” and I said, “The hell you will; if you can’t be a stable, active part of his life, then you can’t see him. I am done.” He called me some choice names and hung up on me, and that is the last we have heard from him until he ran into Steve last weekend.
So you see, it isn’t about the money. Hell, Hannah and Eli’s dad hasn’t paid child support in over two years, and next month Eli is going to see him for a month over the summer break; Hannah chose not to go this time, but the offer was there. He calls them, he keeps abreast of their school stuff, and so hey-he isn’t perfect, we disagree, sometimes I think he is a real chump, but it isn’t about ME. He loves his kids, and has tried to keep a relationship with them, and has integrated his wife into their lives, and that is what it’s all about. If I could choose, obviously I would prefer both-child support and active involvement-but sometimes it doesn’t work that way and as long as they are loving on my kids, I don’t have to like them.
However, with Sam’s dad, his pattern of not just irresponsibility but downright cruelty toward his son-from deliberately undermining the things we try to teach him to driving by and waving and telling him he will be there but not showing up-goes far, far beyond lack of child support. The parenting class I had to take in order to have the divorce decree signed (ah, the irony) went over and over again about how financial support, even above and beyond the court-ordered support amount-is just as crucial to a child’s well-being as an active role in parenting, and to a point I believe that. However, if I had to choose between one and the other, I would take a father’s presence over the money any day, hands down. In this case, we have neither.
On top of the lack of child support there is the fact that in the last three years, I have had $12,000 taken from my bank accounts and my paychecks in order to pay for bills he was ordered to pay; that does not include the thousands of dollars I spent getting my divorce that he was also court-ordered to pay for, or the “small” bills that I have had to pay of his. Those small bills continue, and more and more of them show up weekly. I can either pay them myself or have them garnished, either way I have to pay them, and will probably continue to do so for the next year until the Statute of Limitations is up. So not only is he not paying child support, but his actions have caused extreme harm not just to his son but my entire family; being hungry hurts. Going to school in too-small clothes hurts. Being made fun of because your mom is poor and your dad is whatever he is, hurts.
If he really wants to see his son, he will begin to prove to me that he is capable of being an honest, reliable, responsible person, one worthy of being around Sam. Calling me a bitch and saying he just doesn’t want to deal with me-in public, to my partner and anyone else within hearing-is not something a normal, responsible person would do. Having The Wife call my house in order to attempt to fix his problems is likewise not a responsible behavior. And since I am not willing to throw Sam under the bus in order to let him prove he is responsible, the only real way he can start doing that is to begin to be financially responsible. And I know that if he really, really wanted to be part of his son’s life, if his son’s well-being is at all a concern for him, he will do that. He will take two jobs if he has to in order to make an attempt to pay what he is court ordered to pay, and he will call every fucking week and tell me how much he has changed and he is doing X, Y, and Z to prove that to me and IF he can do that? I will stand up and open my door and let him in.
And you? You know I am writing this post for you. This is the last time I will offer you any kind of an explanation for anything I write, and I will, as I said in yesterday’s comment, happily publish any and all deliberately antagonistic comments you post. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, on this issue or any other I might choose to write about. However, there is a way to respectfully disagree, and being passive-aggressive about it is not at all respectful, nor is reading just for the sake of waiting for something to pounce on. I think you believe that you are hurting me, and maybe in some ways you are-but as I told you before, you are, I think, burning a bridge that you will come to regret burning; the only person you are hurting is yourself. I have never stopped caring about you, even now. I still pray for you and am worried about you and hope that things in your life take off and help you soar.